Fri, 18 June 2021

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By Georgina Bailey, Eleanor Langford and Kate Proctor
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Jeremy Corbyn calls for MPs' Christmas break to be cut short for key Brexit vote

Jeremy Corbyn calls for MPs' Christmas break to be cut short for key Brexit vote
3 min read

MPs should have their Christmas break cut short so that a key Commons vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal can be held “as soon as possible”, Jeremy Corbyn has said.

The Labour leader accused the Prime Minister of trying to “run down the clock” by offering MPs a choice between “the devil or the deep blue sea”, in her deal and an alternative of leaving with no-deal.

His intervention comes ahead of the so-called "meaningful vote" by MPs in the week beginning 14 January – more than a month after it was initially pulled by the Government over fears they would lose it.

A host of Conservative MPs, alongside the DUP and opposition parties, have vowed to vote down the agreement in its current form over the controversial backstop arrangement to keep an open border in Ireland.

Asked whether the PM should demand parliament return a week early, on 2 January, Mr Corbyn told the Independent: “Well it is in her hands to recall parliament. I want us to have a vote as soon as possible, that’s what I’ve been saying for the past two weeks, and if that means recalling parliament to have the vote let’s have it. 

“But it looks to me the Government has once again reneged on that and tried to put it back another week. 

“We need to have that vote so a decision of parliament can be made.

“What I suspect is that it’s a completely cynical manoeuvre to run down the clock and offer MPs the choice of the devil or the deep blue sea.”

Parliament is due to return on 7 January, however it could be recalled early if Commons speaker John Bercow were to approve a formal request from the Government to bring the date forward.

Elsewhere in the interview, Mr Corbyn said it was a case of “when, not if” Labour would move a motion of no-confidence in the Government in order to force a general election, but that the party was considering its “timing”.

The opposition leader has been criticised by other parties, including the SNP and Liberal Democrats for failing to push for the vote.

He added: “We've made clear it's a question of when, not if, we do a vote of no confidence in the government. Obviously we do [it] at a time when their confidence is the lowest ever, which I suspect will be after they've lost the vote."

He also refused to rule out extending Article 50 in order to prolong negotiations on leaving the EU were he to become the next Prime Minister: "Lots of things are possible, the EU has long form on reopening and extending negotiations, but let's not jump too many hoops when we haven't arrived at them,” he said.

A Downing Street source told the Press Association of Mr Corbyn’s comments: “Instead of making silly demands, Jeremy Corbyn should be honest with voters that he has no alternative plan and only intends to frustrate Brexit, ultimately betraying the referendum result.”

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